Palestine joins Interpol as full member country

'The State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands are now Interpol member countries'

JERUSALEM – The International Police Organization has recognized Palestine as a full member state, dealing a significant diplomatic blow to Israel, which has strenuously lobbied against Palestinian admission at Interpol’s general assembly in Beijing.

In a secret vote of representatives of the international police organisation’s members in China, Palestinian membership was approved by 75 to 24 votes, with 34 abstentions – exceeding the two-thirds requirement of yes to no votes.

“The State of Palestine and the Solomon Islands are now INTERPOL member countries,” an Interpol tweet read.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which said earlier that Israel’s efforts to delay a vote until next year had failed, had no immediate comment on the decision.

Israel had contended that Palestine is not a state and that it is ineligible for Interpol membership. Under interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals, a Palestinian Authority was granted limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

“This victory was made possible because of the principled position of the majority of Interpol members,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said in a statement.

The Palestine Liberation Organization said on Twitter that more than 75 percent of Interpol members voted to approve membership.

“On this joyous occasion, the State of Palestine reiterates its commitment to upholding its obligations and contributing to fighting crime and furthering the rule of law,” Maliki said.

Palestine gained a status of “non-member state” from “entity”, like the Vatican, at the United Nations in 2012 and since then has joined more than 50 international organisations and agreements, including the international criminal court and the United Nations heritage body, Unesco.

How Interpol works?

Set up almost a century ago, Interpol was designed to help countries share police intelligence and cooperate against crime that crosses international borders, including terrorism and human trafficking. It now has 192 international members.

It is perhaps best known to the wider public for its “red notice” system, which issues requests to locate and provisionally arrest individuals pending extradition.

Interpol’s constitution also insists on its political neutrality, forbidding it from intervening in political issues.